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Vendor Reviews - Sorry so long!

Been married for 10 days and loving it!!!  I started my vendor reviews before we tied the knot and just updated them today for final impressions. Sorry it's so long....

Venue - The Wright House - A
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By far the best decision I made was to have my wedding/reception at the same venue and pick a package that provided many of the vendors, at an affordable cost yet still have quality without all the leg work and negotiating. The venue was gorgeous!!!
The ladies who helped us pick our centerpieces/layout/rehearsal were well organized, answered emails/communications promptly.  Liked the fact they spread out payments to the package over the course of the engagement rather than half up front and half right before the wedding.  Day of was great. I wasn't stressed at all over details, our day of coordinator had rehearsed with us the day before for timing purposes and lineups so it went off without a hitch.  Everyone was friendly and made this one of the best days of my life and I was able to enjoy it without becoming a ball of stress.  The only thing I would caution is this venue is definitely better for smaller to mid-size weddings.  They advertise that they can accomodate weddings of up to 200 guests. I think they are being a bit over imaginative though, we had 75ish guests at ours and fit us perfectly it would have felt way too cramped if we had been over 100.

Caterer - Park Avenue Catering A-  (vendor through Wright House)
Enjoyed meeting with the caterer, their menus were easy to decipher and the samples we tried tasted great. However, since the catering company was part of the venue's packaged vendors we couldn't choose what was to be tasted (i.e. sample meal for the wedding dinner). The Day of - the food was delish! We were busy taking photos so didn't get to try hor dourves, but heard good comments from family and friends. The dinner was very tasty.  

Cake - Let Them Eat Cake  A++  (vendor through Wright House)
So our cake vendor was changed approx 3 weeks prior to our wedding.  We were told our initial cake vendors contract had to be terminated for many reasons (one of which she missed a wedding) so I had a few issues with the Buttercream Cake Company just thought I'd put out the warning. Anyways we were quickly hooked up with Let Them Eat Cake, they brought us in for a cake tasting. We reviewed their website and picked flavors and fillings to try. Upon our tasting the staff was very friendly and professional, they had received our contract design from the Wright House so we just finalized our design decisions and picked our flavors/fillings. It was fun and we got to take home a mini cake that evening.  The best part is that with our contract we get a free cake (essentially our top tier duplicated) next year to celebrate our 1 year anniversary so we don't have to eat frozen, then thawed,  cake. I also went through them to make a surprise groom cake for my honey to have at the rehearsal dinner.  He was pleasantly surprised and their design for the football theme was spot on.  on the wedding day, the cake was gorgeous! We had purchased a cake topper that was on the heavy side the company had a back up plan in place if it wouldn't work with her supports (which it didn't) so she improvised with some flowers our florist provided and made the cake look lovely and taste even better!  The Red Velvet/Cream cheese was ammmmaaaaazzzzzing!  

DJ-Travis (vendor through Wright House)  B
Seemed a bit rushed during our vendor review. Told us he wasn't an "entertainer/gamer" which was fine since we weren't looking for it, but felt he shouldn't have been so abrupt.  We didn't hear back from him after our vendor night to overview what we discussed until about a week or so before our wedding. We provided our music lists. His contract didn't include the music to be provided for the pre-ceremony/ ceremony so we had to supply  our own CDs. On the wedding day - music was fine, nothing spectacular, but our group of guests like to party and dance, so they kept up with requests and such. and we had given him a long list of "must play" songs.  He did however take time to let us know when he was getting ready for things like the cake cutting, toasts, etc and also checked in with us to see if we needed anything (drinks etc) which was thoughtful. 
Bar Services - Bartender Bob- A (vendor through Wright House)  A
Very efficient. The venue was restrictive in that only beer/wine could be served no hard alcohol. So the choices were easy to make. Day of:  I heard no complaints from the guests, they enjoyed themselves, and we got to take home whatever excess remained.

Photographer - LA Wright Photography B-
Found her through the Phoenix bridal show, her packages included the engagement session. Very friendly, she does more of a photojournalistic approach. @ the time we booked her, she had packages within our budget included the engagement session and rights to the photos. Disappointed only in that our engagement session only had like 15 photos (on cd) rather that more since we had been taking pics for an hour.  her package price did include 2 photogs which we felt was very important to us. She also is connected to an in-home spa company so she had included a mini spa party for me and my girls, but the morning of she cancelled due to her person backing out at last minute. Since I already had told the girls I was treating them to manis/pedis, we improvised and I went to a local spa place instead.  Still waiting to see what she'll compensate for, but the important thing was I have fun with my girls which I did.  The day of:  I'm waiting to see the final pics we've only been married a week and it'll be a bit before she finishes her touch up stuff, but her day of professionalism I can rank:  She was there on time with her 2nd photographer, took some of the standard family posed shots as well as tons of the more photojournalistic photos.  she was friendly with all the guests.  My only complaint on the day of was that we had booked her for 6 hours, and she left early since we weren't doing things like the bouquet toss or garter and said there was only so many "dancing" shots she could do.  I just hope with a comment like that, that she was able to capture all of my guests in some way.  If she did, then fine, but for our departure via family tunnel and limo exit we didn't have her there to get it and I hope one of my family members did.  Oh wells. 

Rehearsal dinner- Macayos Depot Cantina in Tempe  A
Having been raised on Mexican food, I wanted something representative of my heritage somewhere in the wedding process.  We were lucky in the fact that they offered very tasty food at a decent price and we had a separate room off the main dining hall that our family could intermingle with each other (approx 35 people). 

Flowers - The Flower Shopp A+
One of my coworkers' boyfriends works at this vendor. We had a simple meeting to discuss styles and colors. I'm not much of a green thumb and don't know much about flowers, I only wanted something bright/springy for the attendants and myself to hold/wear that would stand out against their navy blue BM dresses and from the garden setting of the venue. I didn't require centerpieces as those were nonfloral. Alex was very informative, nice to work with, and has very good taste. After I finalized my contract with him, I met with the cake decorator who said a few petals for decoration and flowers to help support our cake topper would be good (topper ~ 2 lbs)  I emailed Alex to see if I could make some additions and he said it was no problem.  My bouquet and the bridesmaids bouquets were gorgeous!! I couldn't believe them.  The mens bouteniers were lovely too.  I enjoyed my flowers so much, that I'm having them preserved. 

Wedding Dress - Group USA A+
After I tried dresses on at a bridal shop with no luck finding one I "loved", my friend suggested I check out Group USA in the mall. I didn't even know they had a bridal section. I tried on several dresses and then I found the one that fit great and had all the elements I was looking for in a dress (corset back), a-line, with the sheer/lace over satin. The best thing was it fit well enough that the only alterations needed were the bustle and hem. Loved my dress so much and danced my heart away at the wedding that I'll be keeping it preserved too although I don't know which company I'll use. 

Alterations - Janet Kirkman A
I took the advice of many knotties here and went to her for alterations. Her prices were very reasonable. She was professional, experienced, and very nice. Most of all she surprised me with how fast she was able to complete the work.  Our appointments were quick and to the point. I opted to not have her store my dress until the wedding (didn't want to make the extra drive out to Scottsdale), but thought it was a nice thing for her to offer new brides to be.

Bridesmaid Dresses - Davids Bridal A-

I decided to pick just the wedding colors rather than the specific dresses for my girls. I loved how Davids Bridal worked mostly with the color pallatte and that you could have many styles of dress all with the same color without having to worry about different hues when switching styles.  However, when it came down to trying on the different styles, my bridesmaids actually all liked the same dress so in the end they all dressed the same. My only caution was that we went dress hunting at the end of December for my wedding (mid March) and they said they "hoped" the dresses would be there the week of the wedding. Didn't do much for my nerves.  I was getting nervous we hadn't heard from them so the MOH called the first week of March and was told the dresses were in.  For how long, we don't know, just found it odd they didn't call when the dresses had arrived. But at least my nerves were settled, knowing they were in and my girls were going to look fabulous.
Tux Rental - Mens Warehouse B
Kind of went with who many knotties say they've used plus my friends have used them before. Plus bonus was that since our bridal party was spread out over 3 states it was convenient for the chain to be able to get all the guys fitted and then for them to pick up either here in AZ or their home and then do drop off here after the wedding. Only negatives was that although they took measurements, several of our guys tuxes and shirts were big on them, one guy had chocolate stained on it and he had to return it for a different one.  But bonus was my husband got a new suit out of the deal (with X many tux rentals you get so much off a suit or a free tux rental).
Small things that make the day special:

Hip Handbags (handkerchiefs) - A-
we purchased 2 embroidered handkerchiefs to give to our moms off of etsy. She was very fast and we received them the same week we ordered them. Didn't like the Etsy sight in that when we ordered them we had to find her posting twice in order to order multiples.  But other than that it was great. They made our moms both cry when they received them, thank goodness they had their hankies :-)

Gifts for Bridal party- various companies A
For the groomsmen we bought engraved shot glasses through an online company called round table gifts, they were good quality and cheaper than priced by things remembered. also bought them some cute socks to go with their tuxes stating groomsmen, father of groom, and bestman etc.  They were a nice touch for our guys. Along with the mini spa party for the girls, I made them handmade jewelry boxes out of stained glass, individualized with their first initial and their favorite colors.

Cake topper- Exclusively Weddings B+
Gorgeous cake topper made out of glass and came with a stained wooden base that for additional cost we had our names and wedding date engraved on.  The base has a light in it that when the glass is set on top of it lights up the topper to make a pretty decoration and memento from the day.  Only downfall was a bit pricier, heavy ~ 2 pounds also the glass base was narrow which the cake decorator wasn't able to use it safely without it falling or sinking into the cake, but oh well. it's still a beautiful memento we now keep in our china closet

Guest Book - Picaboo - A
We decided to make a guest book yearbook style with photos of us as children, dating, trips we did and our engagement shots. Nice quality print book with leather cover with a cutout of  a picture of us. Turned out great and now we enjoy seeing all the little messages and stuff that people wrote. 

Honeymoon - Couples Resort - Ocho Rios Jamaica  A+++
I can not say enough good things about going to an all inclusive resort. This was a first for both of us. My husband did all the searching to find the perfect honeymoon and he totally did. My only requirements were a beach and relaxation.  I had ranked the Caribean first with Hawaii 2nd(he has family there and we want to save a repeat trip there later).  Anyways, he was all set to go with Sandals and then discovered several of their competitors.  Couples was more than a grand cheaper to go with, but we couldn't tell where they skimped or if they even did.  It included the airfare to go, we enjoyed a lovely week vacation in paradise. We were mere steps from the pool and beach, had a couples massage included with our stay since we were on a honeymoon. The trip to Dunns River Falls (a Jamaican tourist must!) also enjoyed horseback riding at a nearby plantation  They also had limitless water fun: snorkeling, glass bottom boat, catamaran, scuba trips and sailing that was held daily there at the resort, only had to sign up the day of.  They covered golf green fees but we don't golf so we didn't do that.  The only time we paid stuff out of pocket was on our shopping trip.  The food was so tasty, they gave a jamaican flare to many dishes. I ate to my hearts content and now that we are back home, going to have to hit the gym again.  The alcohol and bar services were great, I assumed with all inclusive and limitless alcohol that the drinks would be weak, but I was sooo wrong.  They tasted great and if anything they didn't skimp on their alcohol.  The staff there was very friendly, wanted to make sure you were comfortable, having a good time, and enjoying your stay. They have a couple other resorts a bit closer to the airport. Ocho rios was almost 2 hours away by a shuttle provided by them, but the roads get a bit twisty and we got a bit car sick.  But the beach there was awesome and well worth it, we learned our lesson and dramamined it up before our return trip home without any problem. 

Anyways, I've been stalking the boards for a year (almost) and found reviews to be helpful. Sorry if this was really long, but hope it helps someone in the future.  Good luck to the rest of your planning! It goes by so quickly, I'm glad it's over and I'm married to the man of my dreams but I'm glad for all the memories of the past year with wedding planning. Now on to married life!!

Banshee Babies - Dec 2010 Feb Siggy Challenge

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